Why I’m Excited For Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail

Why I’m Excited For Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail

I recently got to preview Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail (with my travel and lodging furnished by Square Enix), and I’d like to share with you an anecdote from my time with the game. I think it’ll help underscore why I’m so personally excited for this expansion to a game I’ve recently fallen in love with.

After a few hours of hands-on time with both of Dawntrail’s new classes, and a few runs of the preview’s sole dungeon, many of the players at my preview event took to exploring the sunkissed lands of Tural as best as they could. Two of my friends came across a Queen Bee, which was an exceptionally powerful target that could be hunted in Dawntrail’s open environments. They couldn’t take on it themselves, eventually asking for assistance from me and some other nearby friends.

A handful of us tried our hand at the fight and still failed. The aides at the event went around buzzing at other players, letting them know what we were up to, and indicating that we might need further help. Before long, our numbers grew until there were about a dozen of us fighting this one monster. Even with our greater ranks, we seemed to be wiping pretty quickly.

Then, one player took the initiative and started calling out the buffs, debuffs, and abilities that the Queen Bee was using. They also issued commands, such as telling us when to rush in or stay back to avoid some of her attacks. Before long, our party of players, who for the most part didn’t know each other, whittled her down and vanquished her, with everyone involved letting out a triumphant roar across the preview hall. We had done it, we’d achieved a pointless goal we’d set for ourselves for no particular reason, but we had done it together.

I’ve largely treated Final Fantasy XIV as a lengthy narrative game. I’ve played stretches of it with friends and others by my lonesome, but the story has always been front and center. I’ve mostly been playing catch up since picking up the game right around the launch of Endwalker at the end of 2021, and so whenever I log on, I’m heads down in the ever-evolving saga of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, rarely touching any of FF14’s side content, let alone its endgame activities. I don’t enjoy the game with others so much as I enjoy it while I happen to be around them.

Dawntrail will mark my first expansion that I’m playing alongside FF14’s renowned community. I finally get to experience firsthand the excitement of the fandom as we get to unravel the mysteries of Tural together. I get to run the same dungeons, trials, and raids as everyone else, and I’ll likely be colliding with more players than ever before as we take on creatures in the wilds. Jumping into Dawntrail holds the promise of more experiences like my preview encounter against the Queen Bee.

That segment of the preview is what I keep turning over in my head. I really enjoyed sampling Dawntrail’s new jobs and one of its new dungeons, and getting to talk to the game’s director, Naoki Yoshida, but the unplanned Queen Bee fight is the thing to beat. I became a PC player at this preview, and yet the biggest thing to happen was this singular moment where I felt like part of a larger community. The possibility of enjoying the world of FF14 alongside others suddenly unfurled as if for the first time, despite the fact that I’ve been playing this MMO for more than two years now. And it felt joyous in a way that FF14 has never quite felt for me.

It feels as though I’ve been closing myself off to this whole other way to experience FF14, and it took this completely innocuous fight to shake me from my bad habit. Now, I want to be inundated in the game’s community at launch, help pick Dawntrail apart, and feel like I’m embarking on a whole new journey with a village at my back, one who’s ready to raise me when I’ve fallen and have my back in the trials to come. It feels like I’m finally prepared to enjoy FF14 the way it ought to be enjoyed. And I owe it all to that Queen Bee that thankfully knocked sense into me.

Disclaimer: This article is based on play of an in-development build of FINAL FANTASY XIV: Dawntrail, and content in the final version is subject to change.


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